Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Annotated Boswell Bestseller List, Week Ending December 6, 2014

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
3. Family Furnishings, by Alice Munro
4. Let Me be Frank with You, by Richard Ford
5. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
6. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
7. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
8. Colorless Tuskuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
9. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
10. Revival, by Stephen King
11. The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly
12. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, by Hilary Mantel
13. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
14. Bittersweet, by Colleen McCullough
15. Blue Horses, by Mary Oliver

All the Light We Cannot See blew away the competition this week. It is one of two of The New York Times Book Review's five best books of the year show up on this week's list. In addition to Doerr and Redeployment, there is also Akhil Sharma's Family Life, Lily King's Euphoria, and Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation, which would now show up on the paperback list. Two book from the top 10 Washington Post similarly make our list, The Paying Guests and Station Eleven. The others are Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings, and Smith Henderson's Fourth of July Creek.

If you were only a New York Times reader, and in the days before the internet, you might have been, you'd think Station Eleven was a lackluster also-ran novel; Janet Maslin's daily review was quite negative and the Sunday review was mixed-negative. But in addition to being on the Washington Post top 5, it was also the #1 fiction book for Entertainment Weekly, and of course was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Go figure!

In other notes and feedback, a customer told me Connelly's The Burning Room was the best Bosch he'd read in years, while Jason noted that Oliver's newest collection, Blue Horses, is not selling at the velocity of her last two. 

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande (similarly breaking away from the pack)
2. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast
3. How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg
4. What If, by Randall Munroe
5. Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
6. You Are Here, by Chris Hadfield
7. Milwaukee Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman
8. Pabst Farms, by John C. Eastberg
9. Penelope Fitzgerald, by Hermione Lee
10. This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
11. Deep Down Dark, by Hector Tobar
12. Pioneer Girl, the annotated autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill (reviewed below)
13. American Cornball, by Christopher Miller
14. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
15. Small Victories, by Anne Lamott

One early viewer of this week's bestseller list was a little surprised by some themes running throughout our bestseller list, but hey, Being Mortal and Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant are selling everywhere. Gawande, whose sales are substantially above #2 this week, is one of the Washington Post's top five nonfiction, along with Rory McLean's Berlin, Gary Krist's, Empire of Sin, Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, and John Lahr's Tennessee Williams biography. One astute FOB noted that Tennessee Williams did not even make The New York Times top 100 notables. But Roz Chast made the top 5, along with Eula Bliss's On Immunity, Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald (on our top ten this week), Lawrence Wright's Thirteen Days in September, and the only book that is shared on both lists, The Sixth Extinction.

I haven't found The Wall Street Journal top ten yet but they've been tabulating other lists. I'm glad to see a few books that I read on there, including Lorrie Moore's Bark, and Joshua Ferris's To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. And many Boswellians will be thrilled to see The Paying Guests taking the top spot.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
2. The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami
3. What the Lady Wants, by Renée Rosen (event December 11)
4. At Night We Walk in Circles, by Daniel Alarcón (in store lit group January 5)
5. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
6. Doc, by Mary Doria Russell (in store lit group February 3 and event March 5!)
7. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
8. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
9. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
11. Citizen, by Claudia Rankine
12. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton
13. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
14. Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
15. Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen

You might be thinking I am doing a darn good job of promoting an event next March (and yes, I'm trying) but the Doc had its pop from our monthly in-store lit group meeting, where folks will buy one to two months ahead. Regarding Citizen, shortlisted for the National Book Award, is this fiction or nonfiction? I tend to put poetry in with fiction, but with the author recounting "racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media", it's a little hard for me to say whether this is storytelling or essay writing. Sort of a hybrid.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard J. Davidson
2. Your Living Compass, by Scott Stoner
3. Eat Smart in Denmark, by Carol and Katrina Schroeder
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
6. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
7. Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, by Grant Petersen
8. How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh
9. Parking Tickets, by Shinebox
10. Shakespeare's Restless World, by Neil MacGregor
11. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
12. How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh
13. Milwaukee Bucket List, by Barbara Ali
14. Zealot, by Reza Aslan
15. The Food Lovers' Guide to Wisconsin, by Martin J. Hintz

Shakespeare's Restless World is one of those iconic history books that have been so popular in the last few years, mostly coming out of Great Britain, even when they are documenting American history. A lot of them tie into British television series. This week's top 10 were event driven, with Carol Schroeder's Eat Smart in Denmark talk accompanied by a kringle showdown, from O and H of Racine vs. Uncle Mike's of Green Bay. I'm not going to pronounce a winner, but I will note that the Green Bay kringles were finished first.

Books for Kids:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney
2. Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers
3. Animalium, curated by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott
4. Before After, by Matthias Arégui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
5. Little Blue Truck's Christmas, by Alice Schertle
6. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. The Book with no Pictures, by B.J. Novak
8. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
9. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
10. Nuts to You, by Lynne Ray Perkins
11. Countablock, by Christopher Franceschelli
12. Mix it Up, by Herve Tullet
13. Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale
14. Waiting is not Easy, by Mo Willems
15. Hush Little Polar Bear, by Jeff Mack

Both Nuts to You and Brown Girl Dreaming were bought by the Obama family at Politics and Prose. I find it so odd that ten years ago, we would have called it inappropriate to share these purchases without permission, but so many apps and social media sites do share your purchases with others that I don't know what to think. Amie wouldn't mind if we could pop Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms from the Obama shopping list to our bestseller list. She's a huge fan.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviewed the annotated Pioneer Girl that was on this week's nonfiction bestseller list, written of course by Laura Ingalls Wilder and edited by Pamela Smith Hill. The book comes from South Dakota State University. He notes: "At least three different kinds of readers will find Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography a fascinating book: fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House stories, literary gossips, and writers and would-be writers who want to transform real-life experiences into fiction." Quite the inspirational account!

Originally published in the Dallas Morning News, Chris Vognar profiles Jeff Chang, author of Who We Be: The Coloritzation of America. "In tracing the rise , fall and growing commodity status of multiculturalism in America, Chang casts a skeptical eye on the country's rhetoric and dreams of reaching across color lines and accepting difference."

Another piece (originally from McClatchy newspapers) offers Tish Wells' assessment of Doctor Who Books, of which "there are a plethora" this year. "Probably the most interesting is Doctor Who:Engines of War, by George Mann. Reading the description, I will note that it will not sound more interesting than the others unless you are already a Doctor Who fan.

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